11 June 2009

True Loaf Love

How to create brand loyalty if you're a cheese company:

1. Make amazing cheese.
2. Make amazing ice cream... and amazing dairy products in general.
3. Allow people to go on factory tours.
4. Have a guy dress up as a baby loaf of cheese and make appearances.

5. Join Twitter, and have an awesome website.
6. Have amazing ad campaigns.

Basically, if you live in Oregon, there's really only one brand of cheese that you buy: Tillamook. Maybe Bandon, but that's owned by Tillamook, so basically, just Tillamook. Also, if you grew up in the Willamette Valley or on the coast, chances are you went to the Tillamook Cheese Factory on a field trip in elementary school once (or twice... or basically any year your school had money to send classes on field trips (I guess I went to a poor school, so we really only got legitimate field trips every couple of years)). I even had a friend smuggle some Tillamook Cheese into Scotland (okay, so she claims it was by accident - for some reason she had some cheese in her suitcase? Anyway, Customs didn't find it, so no big, right?). I also once got an entire mini-bus full of high school students lost on the way back from an FFA forestry contest/cheese factory trip (our bus then broke down in the woods... That day is known as "Kelsey's Grand Adventure" now). So, naturally, when you get home from your first year at college you make the pilgrimage with two of your best friends pretty much immediately to that fantastical world of happiness... and cheese.

After a delicious lunch in a small diner (called the Cow Belle Cafe – hilarious, I know) in Rockaway Beach, we headed down to Tillamook, the land of cheese. (Well, they also have an amazing air museum and a forestry center, but those will be visited on a later trip to the coast...) Upon entering the doors into their magical dairy kingdom, we were presented with a great number (okay, so only two) of possibilities: do we eat ice cream now, or after the tour? Clearly, the answer to that question is after the tour; we could build up our appetites, and we'd be able to truly appreciate the work the Tillamook County Creamery Association put into the product. Just before heading upstairs to the viewing areas, we stopped for the requisite photo (when there are boards with paintings or pictures on them, and cutouts for faces, a photo is required, no if's, and's or but's).

They're probably going to hate me for that...
Then we headed upstairs to the viewing areas. They tell me pictures are worth a thousand words, so rather than attempting to explain all of the awesomeness, I'll just post photos.

Because I'm a food science nerd, I was naturally excited to locate all the HACCP checkpoints...
So. Many. Ice. Cream. Flavors. (38, to be precise!)
Award-winning deliciousness.

After we were done learning about the wonders of cheese-making, it was time for SAMPLES! Medium, sharp, extra sharp – there was cheddar aplenty. I may or may not have taken more than my fair share of cubes of the extra sharp... It's pretty tasty stuff. Then it was gift shop time!
Mmmmm... Cheese curds!
A whole freezer of Tillamook ice cream! Yum!
We explored the gift shop for a while, then we had ice cream, because that's pretty much a requirement when you go to the Tillamook Cheese Factory (okay, it's not a requirement, but if you don't get ice cream, then you're doing something wrong). Normally, I get vanilla, or some permutation of vanilla (e.g. French Vanilla, Vanilla Bean), but when you're faced with 38 delectable flavors, it's time to branch out. I told my friends that they weren't allowed to let me get anything involving vanilla. Fortunately, my order of Orange Sherbet* was acceptable. It contrasted nicely with the bright blue tables (and are the Tillamook colors, no less!). Also exciting: they use the "plastic" silverware made from corn!

* I've always been so confused about the pronunciation of this word. I can't seem to get it right; I just know the wrong way. My computer's dictionary sounds like someone gets a little annoyed by people pronouncing it incorrectly, though:
"USAGE The tendency to insert an r into the second syllable of sherbet is very common. Frequency of misuse has not changed the fact that the spelling sherbert and the pronunciation |ˈ sh ərbərt|are wrong and should not be considered acceptable variants."

All in all, it was an awesome trip to the coast; the Tillamook Cheese Factory never fails to disappoint, and now I have a mini squishy foam Baby Loaf that I can throw at my younger brother when he tries to make me listen to bad rap music or talks during Jeopardy!.

1 comment:

Fahrenheit 350° said...

I looooooooooooove, looooooooooooooooove, loooooooooooooooooooooooooooooove Tillamook!